What's taking so long?

>> Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Things have been slow on the adoption front. Our initial excitement to see a picture of our baby girl has given way to weeks, and now months, of waiting on something to happen. It seems there is a bit of a hold-up administratively and until some things get resolved we won’t be able to go to Ethiopia for our court date. This time has been more difficult than I would have expected. At one time we would have expected to have her home for Christmas.

We would so appreciate your prayers. On Sunday night I preached that the prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much. This is a promise that is easy to miss as we read over verses in the Bible we have heard all of our lives. But it is timely for us to be reminded that God our Father wants us to bring our requests before Him. In Luke 18:1-8 the widow persistently brings her request before the unjust judge who eventually relents out of selfishness and annoyance. “Will God not bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them?” (vs. 7)

So we’re believing this promise and will be bringing our little Mae before the throne of our Father in Heaven constantly until we can bring her home. After all, He is a father of the fatherless and a judge for widows. (Ps. 68:5-6) As it says at the top of this page, “He sets the lonely in families.” We can be confident that we are asking Him to do something that He will be happy to do.


It's a Girl

>> Saturday, October 23, 2010

We knew it would come eventually. We’ve waited for weeks to hear word about the baby God had for us in Ethiopia. We began this process over a year ago now. At 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon as we prepared to go meet some dear friends visiting Savannah Erika decided that we wouldn’t hear this week. For Erika, weekends had become one long exercise in patience since referral calls only go out on weekdays.

Having greeted our friends at their hotel we headed for River Street. We hadn’t even had time to tell them where we were in the adoption process when the phone rang. Right there on River Street on a beautiful Savannah afternoon Erika looked at her phone and said, “I think this is it!” Lucy, Harry and our friends continued down the street as Erika and I listened with tears welling up in our eyes. We are now the parents of a 5 week old baby girl. Even as a massive cargo ship from who knows where in the world sailed into the port of Savannah we became aware for the first time of a little girl in Africa who is now our sweet daughter.

From there the afternoon was a whirlwind of excitement and fellowship with good friends. We walked around downtown Savannah telling each other of all the things God is doing in our lives and churches. After walking them back to their hotel to say goodbye we drove to my parents’ house where, for the first time, in the company of Grammy and Granddaddy, we saw our daughter. No doubt it will be a story that we tell her over and over again.

Sleep came slowly for Erika last night. This morning we’re busy filling out papers and contacting friends. We are blessed to be able to write a check for exactly the amount we need to accept the referral. If you remember, God provided almost exactly that amount at our garage sale late last spring.

This morning our prayers have changed. For months we have asked God for help as we believed He was leading us to adopt a child from Ethiopia. Now we pray for a specific baby girl that He would keep her safe in His loving arms until we can get there to bring her home.


We're on Deck!

>> Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Great news today. We got official word from America World that we’re on deck. We could be just weeks away from receiving our referral. Like I said in my last post: things are happening and we couldn’t be more excited.

We started this process almost exactly a year ago. It has been a long process and at times things have seemed so quiet. People come up and ask for an update and all we can say is, “We’re still waiting.” You can only imagine the joy to hear that we’re truly getting closer to our goal of meeting our baby.

Thank you so much for the prayers and for those who are keeping up with us on this journey.


Things Are Happening

>> Saturday, August 21, 2010

Things are starting to move again toward our adoption. As of this past week we believe that we have moved into the top 10 on the list of those waiting to adopt from Ethiopia. We’re getting closer and closer to receiving our referral. Erika tells me that we’ll get a call from America World and then an email with a picture of our baby. She says that most families wait until they’re all together which means she’ll have to go crazy until I get home from work. There’s no doubt that there will be some exciting days ahead.

Regardless of where we are on the list we are seeing God continue to provide the money that we need to bring this baby home. Last Sunday our pastor called me into his office to “give me something.” We’ve been working on changing our insurance at the church and I assumed that he needed to give me some documents. Instead, he handed me an envelope with twelve one hundred dollar bills from an anonymous person. We're so thankful. We also have received a travel grant of $3000 from Show Hope.

I could not possibly have imagined the ways that God would provide for this adoption. Over and over again He has provided exactly what we needed.


Huge Adoption Yard Sale

>> Saturday, May 22, 2010

We’ve been on blog silence for the last couple of weeks due largely to our garage sale preparations. This last week has been very intense. We’ve been dealing with health problems, several unexpected schedule changes and the looming presence of jury duty. I had no idea how this garage sale was going to turn out. I was reluctant to begin with and as of Thursday night I had no idea what to expect.

All I can do right now is thank the Lord for His great kindness to us. First of all, I am so thankful for our church. So many of our brothers and sisters in Christ came out in a super-sacrificial way. Not only did they donate some really good stuff, dozens of people donated countless hours to making our sale the success it was. Right now we are amazed and humbled.

Second, He gave us wonderful weather and great crowds. The sale was set to start on Saturday morning. By Friday night when we left to get a little sleep we had already raised almost $1500.00.

Third, and I can hardly write this without tearing up, God provided us $4800.00 which is exactly the amount we need when we get our referral.

Right now above all I am thankful. I am thankful to God. I am thankful to my parents for all of their help this weekend. I am thankful to our church for their incredible love and support.


Why International Adoption? Part 3

>> Friday, April 30, 2010

Erika says I’m becoming obsessive about creating short posts. I’ve got this thing right now about making sure that I communicate what I want to say before my reader gets bored and goes back to surfing facebook. This is going to be a short post but mainly because there’s just not that much to add to the point.

Why international adoption you ask? (Did someone ask this or did I just start answering the question?) My third respond is: Why not? I know. I’m not supposed to answer a question with a question. But we need to be careful that we don’t deem the things we love and do more sanctified just because they’re the things we love and do. There are many ways to adopt/serve orphans. Every way has positives and negatives. Hopefully in every case the goal is to serve God by serving these children. So it’s really not up to me to decide which way is best for somebody else.

From my experience it is best to be very settled in whatever you choose. Adoption itself isn’t for everyone and certain types of adoption won’t be right for everyone called to adopt. The process can be challenging at times and it is important in the midst of those challenges to be resolved that you’ve made a wise decision. So when it comes to how one intends to adopt I suggest you do good research, seek good counsel, and pray that the Lord will give you wisdom (trusting that He will! – James 1:5-6).

See also:

Why International Adoption? Part 1
Why International Adoption? Part 2


Weekend Report

>> Sunday, April 25, 2010

One nifty little feature of this process is that we’re able to follow our dossier as it travels to Ethiopia. They gave us the FedEx number so that we could keep track of the progress. As of yesterday morning it had arrived in Newark where it remains as of the last time we checked. Hopefully it will soon be on its way to some airport in Europe and then on to Ethiopia.

This has been one of the most eventful times of this whole process. It’s nice to be moving forward after having been stuck waiting to send the dossier away for so long. I’m sure we’ll be back to feeling like nothing’s going on soon enough.


Why International Adoption? Part 2

>> Wednesday, April 21, 2010

One of the things that has driven Erika and I to international adoption is the overwhelming need. There are 143,000,000 orphans in the world today. That is a staggering number of children. Many of these children spend their early lives in the care of government institutions until they are deemed old enough. At that point most end up on the streets with little or no education or skills to support themselves. Many of these are forced to turn to prostitution and other illegal activity just to survive.

Last year Erika and I read a book that helped put some faces on these 143 million orphans. There is no Me Without You is a biography about a woman in Ethiopia who somewhat reluctantly became a caregiver to dozens of children. In Ethiopia the AIDS epidemic has decimated whole villages. Girls as young as 7 or 8 are left alone to care for their younger siblings. Haregewoin Teffera began sheltering children reluctantly after the death of her daughter. By the time she died in March of 2009 she had cared for over 400 children. Yes, her ministry to 400 children seems like a drop in the bucket compared to 143 million. But her love was hardly meaningless to those 400 little lives.

The same could be said (and has been said) to us. What good are you going to do for 143 million orphans? While it is true that this adoption won’t make a dent in the statistics, we believe that to one child who is created in the image of God we can make an eternal difference.

See also:

Why International Adoption? Part 1


Why International Adoption? Part 1

>> Tuesday, April 20, 2010

It’s hard to maintain a blog. I’ve published 3 blogs now and typically ideas come faster at first and then become progressively rarer. Frankly, sometimes it’s nice to have an idea to blog about. Someone in the comments section of the post titled “DTE” raised a good question: Why adopt internationally? This is an excellent question and one that Erika and I spent a lot of time thinking about before we started the process of adopting from Ethiopia. So after this post I will begin a little series in which I will attempt to answer this question.

I am actually thankful that people are wrestling with adoption in general and international adoption specifically. Erika and I are praying that our experience in Ethiopia might raise awareness about adoption in our church and community. It is exciting to us that another family in our church has just recently begun the process of adopting domestically. If you’re reading our blog and have questions or concerns we would invite you to contact us personally or by making a comment. It’s actually nice to have someone express their concerns rather than force a smile, say, “That’s great!” and then turn away as fast as possible.

Let me start just briefly by addressing one of the specific questions raised by our anonymous commenter, “Why adopt a child from a godless country so far away?” Because God our Father adopted us to be His children even though we belonged to a godless country far away from Him. Distance and sin didn’t stop God the Father from bringing me into His family. And for this I am eternally grateful.



>> Monday, April 19, 2010

We need how much right now? That was my response when Erika told me that we needed $7,200 to be able to take the next step in this adoption. We hadn’t been clear on exactly what was due when and so this amount was a shock to me. At that time our “adoption fund” had about $800. Last Wednesday Erika wrote a check for $7200 and sent it with all of our paperwork to AWAA to be reviewed. Our family coordinator, Nicole, told us on Thursday that our dossier looks good and will be sent to Ethiopia on Friday, April 23rd. We're excited to be done with the paperchasing stage and amazed that God provided so much money in such a short amount of time.

We are so thankful to all of you who the Lord has used to get us to this point in the adoption. Not very many weeks ago it did not seem possible that we would have all that we needed at any time in the near future. But God has been faithful to provide through many different ways.

As of Friday we’ll be DTE (dossier to Ethiopia). Now we begin this new phase of waiting for the good people in Ethiopia to connect us to a child. We still have to raise more money for some final fees and our travel costs. But we look forward to see how God will provide just as He has done until now.


Pray for Russia's Orphans

>> Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Russell Moore on the news story of the mother who sent her son back to Russia:

I nervously switched off the television early Sunday morning as I heard my children bounding toward the door. I didn’t want them to hear the news. I didn’t want to hear it myself. Every time I see what is going on in Russia, with the government calling for an immediate halt on American adoptions, I think about the orphanage where I first met my two oldest sons.

And I want to cry.

The news reports are appalling, to be sure. A grandmother in Tennessee reportedly placed a child adopted from a Russian orphanage on a plane bound for the former Soviet Union, sending him back because the family allegedly said they couldn’t deal with his disturbed emotional state and alleged potential for violence. The Russian government and the Russian people are outraged, and want to see to it this will never happen again.

There are several things Christians ought to keep in mind and, more importantly, in prayer here.

First of all, we should pray for this child, and for his family. We, of course, don’t know much about this situation beyond what we see in the news, but that’s enough to know this is a catastrophe. It is horrific any time a child is orphaned. It is even more horrific when a child is twice-orphaned.

There is no defense, and no excuse, for the actions this family took. If there were emotional or behavioral problems, there are legitimate mechanisms in place to work through those things with the assistance of counselors or social workers, even through the agency by which the family was formed in the first place.

We should also pray, and pray fervently, that God would change the hearts of the Russian government officials, that they would not allow this tragedy to further harm the already endangered orphans of Russia.

Sadly, this American family’s actions may well have catastrophic implications. This case, along with one or two others, has given impetus to a nativist Russian nationalism already uncomfortable with international adoption.

At one level, I can understand this. Imagine if the United States collapsed into a hodgepodge of independent and impoverished states and American children were being adopted by citizens of a Cold War triumphant USSR. Add to that, a high profile case of this kind of neglect, and this impulse can be whipped into a frenzy.

The stakes are high. Families who were poised to be formed through adoption are now suddenly on hold, in a “diplomatic limbo” of waiting. “An estimated 3,500 Russian children are in some stage of the adoption process with 3,000 American families,” reports the New York Times, citing the Joint Council on International Children’s Services.

The very fact that this horrible situation is getting such coverage all over the world right now is precisely because it is such an anomaly. There have been more than 50,000 U.S. adoptions from Russia since 1991, with adopting parents carefully screened and the Russian government receiving reports back from the post-adoption home studies. The stories of abuse are rare, much rarer than domestic abuse rates in virtually any country.

It would be quite different if there were a vibrant adoption culture in the former USSR. This is not the case. Adoption is extremely rare in Russian culture. The very few families who adopt, and children who are adopted, are often stigmatized.

The leftover effects of Communist materialism matched with the instability of the new economy have resulted in a skyrocketing abortion rate along with orphanages filled with abandoned infants and children. The children who are not adopted languish in these orphanages until they are old enough to be thrown out, defenseless, into society, where they often find few options beyond the Russian military, prostitution, or suicide.

The Russian orphanage where my wife and I found our sons, then Maxim and Sergei, was the most heartbreaking place I have ever been. Its sights and smells and sounds come back to me every day.

But, even more so, before my mind’s eye every day are the faces of the children we couldn’t adopt. The little girl who peered around the door frame every day as we visited our then-future sons in their room. What happened to her? What will happen to those like her, and like my sons, who are waiting now for homes and families, someone to love them and feed them and hug them?

Until now, my hope has been that Christians from America, Canada, Germany, France, or somewhere may have adopted them, to raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. If the anti-adoption Russians get their way, I fear that these children will be sentenced to institutions, never to find families.

There are other Maxims and Sergeis, sitting day and night in cribs somewhere in Russia. Let’s pray that the Russian people make the right decisions for them. And let’s pray for the providence of the One who promises to be a Father to the fatherless. This situation isn’t just a human interest tragedy. And it’s not just a foreign policy issue.

Russia’s orphans aren’t foreigners to those of us who’ve been adopted into the family of Christ. They’re Jesus’ little brothers and sisters (Matt 25:40). He won’t forget them.

And neither can we.

My television’s going to stay off for awhile. I don’t want my boys to overhear this horrible scenario and wonder if, God forbid, they might ever be put back on a plane to Russia. I don’t want them to know, yet, that they live in a world so dark that such things can happen. Maybe you could turn your television off too, just for a little while, and pray for the orphans of Russia.


Sons & Daughters

>> Tuesday, April 6, 2010

File this one under the ever popular "What I'm listening to Right Now" section. I'll admit I was a little surprised by just how much I like this CD. When I like a song I tend to wear it out. After a couple of weeks of tracks 2-4 I still can't wait to get in the car and listen again.

I like that the musicians of Soveriegn Grace have provided us with an album full of very singable songs about an aspect of our salvation that often takes a little bit of a backseat to some of the more prominent salvation metaphors.


Easter Weekend Update

>> Saturday, April 3, 2010

We would like to say many, many thanks to those who have contributed to our adoption so far. We are getting closer and are hoping to send away our dossier to Ethiopia in April. Please continue to pray that we would be able to take this next step asap.

March was a month of ups and downs in this process. The notification regarding the extra trip to Ethiopia was followed by another notification that this may not be the case and then another stating that the two trips are indeed necessary. At this point we’re planning on the extra trip and if it doesn’t have to happen we’ll be glad.

We’ve also had a minor change in our thinking about this adoption. For various reasons we had focused on adopting a boy from Ethiopia. But some of the upheaval in the process over the last few weeks has led us to change our request to either a boy or a girl. So everywhere below on the blog where I speak about “my boy” or “my son” just feel free to think about that as “my child.” If we adopt a little girl she’ll probably be reading through those posts one day and wonder “I wonder what happened with that little Ethiopian boy they were going to adopt?”

Finally, it’s great to be celebrating Easter this weekend. As we anticipate another adoption, the death and resurrection of Christ is the basis upon which we are able to be adopted by our Heavenly Father. We’re looking forward to celebrating Easter tomorrow with a room full of the adopted children of God.


One of our Fundraisers...

>> Thursday, March 18, 2010


Since Everyone's Talking About Health Care

>> Tuesday, March 16, 2010

There are two things that God is using in our lives right now to cause us to have to deepen our dependence on Him. One is our Ethiopian adoption. The other is keeping our son covered with medical insurance. In case you didn’t already know Harry has a condition called Sturge Weber Syndrome. The vascular birthmark (called a Port Wine Birthmark) that is on his face is also on his brain and causes him to have seizures. He takes a very expensive drug called Keppra twice a day to manage the seizures.

Because of the Sturge Weber and a couple of other medical problems, Harry is uninsurable. Our only hope of keeping him insured is a program called Katie Beckett Medicaid. The good news is that he was accepted to the Katie Beckett program as of February 17th. The bad news is that we can’t get anyone at Chatham Country DCFS to enter his information into the system so that the doctors and pharmacists can know he is covered.

As of today we’re about to run out of Keppra. The Keppra actually keeps him from having seizures and the seizures can cause brain damage and developmental delays. Today, as a last resort I called the Epilepsy Foundation. Not only did I immediately hear a voice on the other end of the line but I found him both cheerful and helpful. After only a few questions he made arrangements to make sure that Harry has his medication for the next month. We are very thankful to the good folks at www.epilepsyga.org for helping us when we needed it most. If anyone at the Epilepsy Foundation ever calls and asks for money know that it will be going to a good cause.

Update: Finally heard from the social worker this afternoon. She needs a couple of documents faxed over but she won’t be in again until Thursday at which time if she gets the information entered it will be 10 days before Harry is fully covered. Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to government run health care!


Conference Call

>> Thursday, March 11, 2010

We spent some time on a conference call with America World this afternoon. I think this was my first conference call. I was thrown off by the voice telling me to introduce myself as I came on. I debated in my mind for a few moments before deciding to hold off on that. The delay was definitely the right call. Apparently regular conference callers know to disregard those opening instructions.

I can’t say we learned anything particularly new but it was definitely good to hear some specifics about the situation with the additional trip. There are positives to this, not the least of which is that because we will both meet our boy before the court appearance he will be able to obtain US citizenship the moment he sets foot on US soil. Also, it was pointed out that we will have more opportunities to enjoy getting to see Ethiopian culture.

I would classify yesterday as moderate to severe on the “momentary crisis” meter for this adoption. I think one’s natural first reaction is, “Are we doing the right thing?” But prayer, conversation and some sage advice from Erika’s sister helped us see that there’s really no reason to deviate from the path that we believe God has placed us upon.



>> Wednesday, March 10, 2010

In the adoption process we have learned to expect the unexpected. Today we received some news from our agency that definitely qualifies as unexpected. One of the reasons we felt that the Lord was leading us to Ethiopia was because it only required one trip. We felt that due to Harry’s health issues it would be wise for us to pursue an adoption in a country that only requires one short visit. Because of the cost of international travel this also cuts down on the overall expense.

The news today is that Ethiopia will now be requiring parents to make two trips. The first trip will be for the purpose of appearing in court. The second trip, three months later, will be to pick up our son. Obviously this is a big surprise on both fronts. We'll have to make two lengthy overseas trips and it will cost an additional $6,000. There will be lots to pray about in the coming days. We’d certainly appreciate it if you would join us as we seek the Lord’s direction for moving forward.


What's Next?

>> Monday, March 8, 2010

The most overwhelming challenge of adoption is the cost. By the time all is said and done it will cost between $25,000 and $30,000 to bring our little boy home from Ethiopia. We started the process because of a generous gift from a dear friend that covered the initial fees. We are now trusting the Lord to provide the rest. We’re working hard to get the money together, applying for grants and doing some fundraisers, but we have a long way to go. We know that providing a loving Christian family for a child who would otherwise grow up in an orphanage or on the streets is worth the cost. Here’s what we still need:

We need $5,600 more to take the next step. It’s been five months and our paperwork is finally finished. That’s a huge step, but we can’t send our dossier to our agency so it can be sent to Ethiopia until we’re able to send a large check with it. Once the money and our dossier are submitted the wait to be matched with our son can begin.

Once we are matched with our child we will need about $12,000 so that we can go meet him and bring him home. This amount will cover what remains of our adoption fees (about $5,000) and the cost of travel to Ethiopia and back (about $7,000).

We will continue to work hard to raise the necessary funds but we still need help. We would be grateful if you would consider contributing to our adoption. America World has a program called “Eternal Family” that allows our friends and family to give tax-deductible gifts towards our adoption. If you’re interested in this we can e-mail you a form to send to America World and they’ll send you a receipt. You can also donate directly through Pay Pal using the “donate” button at the top of this page.

Thank you for your interest in our family’s adoption. We’ll keep you posted.


Black Children an Endangered Species?

>> Wednesday, March 3, 2010

This image is appearing on billboards around the metro-Atlanta area. Dr. Mohler has an excellent article about the effects legalized abortion has had on the black community and one woman who is trying to do something about it. Here is a shocking statistic: 18,870,000 black babies have been aborted since Roe v. Wade. That is a staggering loss of humanity.


Video for Dads

>> Thursday, February 25, 2010

Don't know this guy but I like him:


Why Ethiopia?

>> Wednesday, February 24, 2010

• 1.5 million people are infected with AIDS (6th highest in the world)
• 44% of the population is under 15 years old
• 720,000 children have been orphaned by AIDS alone, and there are 4.6 million orphans in Ethiopia.
• 88% will never attend secondary school
• Ethiopia's doctor to child ratio is 1 to 24,000
• Half of the children in Ethiopia will never attend school
• One in six children die before their 5th birthday
• One in ten children die before their 1st birthday
• Per capita, Ethiopia receives less aid than any country in Africa
• The median age in Ethiopia is 17.8 years



>> Friday, February 12, 2010

Yesterday we received some good news. A rather unspectacular envelope (I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting but I definitely thought it would be larger) came in the mail containing the document that gives us permission to bring a child born overseas into the United States. The name of the form is I-171H. This is a huge step forward and is the culmination of about 4 months worth of work.

This document puts us into a time when we’re only waiting for funds so that we can send it off to Ethiopia. We need about $6,000 to take that next step and we would invite you to join us as we pray for God to provide. God provided the money for us to get started and I know that He can provide the money we need to keep moving forward.


Arno Pet

>> Saturday, February 6, 2010

This is the most recent post from Dr. Albert Mohler. This story about adoption in Haiti isn't the story you think it is going to be and it certainly doesn't end the way you expect it to end. But it is a sad and beautiful picture of adoption. As Dr. Mohler says in his final paragraph, in the rubble of a hotel in Haiti we find a picture of the gospel of Christ.


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